In the land of all things venomous (II): low-budget excursions

Australia is not only a very interesting place but also a very expensive one. During my stay there I made the mistake of looking for a qualified internship related to my studies. Why mistake? Because, apparently, if you’re a foreigner, finding a non-qualified job is possible, but finding a qualified one is extremely hard. That limited my social life and most of all the amount of travelling. However, I still managed to do a few excursions.

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary

I’m not sure if it was in Brisbane or right next to it, but in any case it wasn’t a long trip. I went there with a few international students. The highlight were not the koalas but the kangaroos, which were in semi-freedom so could caress them as long as you were not a big pain in the ass. Here are a few photos.

Byron Bay

Byron Bay is a village about two hours from Brisbane by bus. A quite economic university trip was organized there and I obviously couldn’t not go, considering it’s on the coast and the beach is beautiful.

It was simply a weekend of chilling at the beach and trekking a little bit, including passing by the most Eastern point in Australia’s mainland. It’s hard to believe we were in the middle of the winter, though. As I’m writing this (17th of April) it’s snowing in Gdansk, Poland, while the sun was all over the place during that weekend in Byron Bay. Jacopo, an Italian guy who was there as well, got sunburnt. I’m quite sure 95% of Poles would love to have that kind of “winter”.

Something traumatic happened to me there. I was sharing a room with two bunk beds with three Danish guys. Everyone went out in the evening but I came back first and went on top of my bunk bed, hoping for some nice undisturbed sleep. So naive of me.

When I was almost asleep, the door opened and I could hear two voices, one male and one female.  You can probably see where this is going, but back then I was only semi-conscious and I just thought she had forgotten something in the room.

What she had apparently forgotten was how fun it would be to have sex in the bed below mine. I had remained still and silent while they talked, but when I felt their pressence on the other bed and it started making a screeching sound as it moved, my eyes suddenly opened in terror.

I have to give them something: they did their best to stay silent. Still… not enough. At some point his friends called him on the phone and he spoke in Danish until, answering a question from the girl, he said they had fifteen more minutes. By then it was too late to make them notice I was awake and I just had two options: asking if I could join them and try to think about rainbows and lollypops until they finished. I chose the second option and at some point, after  a few seconds when the moans went in crescendo, I was left alone. Good luck sleeping after that.

Oh well, at least the weather was good and I got to see (after all it’s Australia) weird animals.

DSC00045.JPG

Also I just realized 80% of what I wrote about this place is about two strangers having sex in the bed below mine. I’m not sure that’s a good thing.

Melbourne

Jacopo found cheap tickets and we decided to go there for five days. Melbourne confirmed what I thought after seeing Brisbane: Australian countryside is way more interesting than its cities. Melbourne it’s a huge place inhabitated by four million people and yet the city seemed rather soulless. I mean, it definitely has nice places to see, and I’m sure anyone would need years to get to know it relatively well, but there’s just not history and that’s something that matters to me quite a lot.

In that time we spent two nights at a hostel and three nights with two different couchsurfers. The first one, Shani, was a really cool person who, along with her friend Phaedra and her parents, treated us perfectly. The best part is that I ended up hosting her in Sevilla one year later. The second host and her boyfriend were the perfect prototype of stereotypical hippies. They may as well have “Peace” and “Love” for names. What made it funnier is that Jacopo used to jokingly say he hated hippies. Anyway, they treated us very well but we just didn’t really click.

All in all we saw several interesting places, such as an aboriginal museum, a “donation restaurant” in which you could eat all you wanted and give the money you wanted for it (the lentil lassagna was amazing, by the way), a couple of beach spots or Melbourne’s own Chinatown. Still, I’d say any building-free place in Australia is more interesting.

Stradbroke Island

I went there on a one-day trip with Wei Wei, a good friend and actually the only person whom I really keep in touch three and a half years after leaving the country. Stradbroke Island is a perfect example of why people want to go to Australia, and I’m sure there are other places five times as amazing.

Have you ever seen a beach in a postcard or a documentary that made you think “wow, I’m never going to be in a place like that”. Well, I was in a place like that. Beautiful. I also saw a lake with brownish and yet drinkable water (something from the trees nearby gave it that colour, not sure what) and a road straighter than my back when a teacher mentioned my  name that crossed the island from one side to the other. I obviously took the mandatory tourist photo. Animals? Wild kangaroos, pretty funny crabs and the biggest spider I’ve seen in my life. Not bad.

Caloundra

Another beautiful beach. I went there on my own since I finished my exams earlier than everyone else and just chilled for hours until I realized I hadn’t put any suncream on and I was starting to have dangerous similarities with the standard German tourist in Mallorca. I got indeed what is still the biggest sunburnt in my whole life and spent the whole night doing my best to ensure my skin didn’t touch anything that wasn’t air. Still, great place, go if you have the chance. Ouch.

Kondalilla Falls

I went on my last excursión with Andrés, a guy from Sevilla with whom I have one friend in common, and his then girlfriend and now wife. I like anything that involves trekking in green areas, but the best part was the huge lizards that could be seen from time to time. I’d say they were a bit more than a metre long from head to tail and probably very heavy.

This is not much considering I spent four and a half months in Australia but again I was quite a crappy traveller back then. I’m not sure if I’ll ever go back but if I ever do I’ll make sure I use my time better.

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2 thoughts on “In the land of all things venomous (II): low-budget excursions

  1. A varied list of activities. Glad to hear most were pleasant!
    No argument that it is the natural environment that is Australia’s greatest asset. Shame we don’t look after it so well. Re the cities, I’ve found that outside ‘old Europe’, you probably need time and some local knowledge to get the most out of a new city. In Australia, for instance, I usually suggest to visitors with only a few days in major metropoli to go to Sydney. Its waterside locations are a spectacular beginning. If someone wants to sink into a city, on the other hand, I usually recommend Melbourne. There is a massive cultural life there but of course engaging with such activities takes time and money.
    Perhaps on your next visit?
    Cheers, Bruce (Melbourne)

    Like

    • Well well, I wasn’t expecting you to come here! It was a pleasant surprise to see where you’re from. You’re right by the way, I did get the feeling that Melbourne has a lot to offer culturally speaking, but for that I have to go back after a few years of hard work so I can save enough money. A Spanish student can’t afford too much, unfortunately. So yeah, perhaps on my next visit indeed. Cheers, Juan (Spanish born, Poland based)

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